Ripon Cathedral has been awarded £60,800 of National Lottery funding to launch a digital volunteering initiative and break down barriers to heritage.
The funding is part of The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Digital Skills for Heritage initiative, which aims to raise digital skills and confidence across the whole UK heritage sector.
Seventeen projects have been awarded funding to create digital volunteering opportunities, supporting volunteers to develop and contribute their digital skills. Some opportunities will be offered online – removing barriers such as place, mobility, time commitments and confidence in returning to in-person activities due to the pandemic.
In turn, heritage organisations will gain the perspectives and skills of ‘at distance’ and on-site digital volunteers including many who may not have had the chance to volunteer before. The impact of the new volunteering opportunities and ways of working will be shared across the heritage sector.
Ros Kerslake, CEO at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Volunteers play a crucial role in supporting and sharing the UK’s heritage. Thanks to National Lottery players we are delighted to support these trailblazing projects, including ‘Ripon 1350’ as they create exciting new digital volunteering opportunities, helping to break down barriers and inspire the sector to get even more people involved in the heritage they love.”
Ripon 1350 is a volunteer programme which will take place during the cathedral’s 1350th anniversary year in 2022. The cathedral’s crypt was built by St Wilfrid in 672 and is the oldest built fabric of any English cathedral.
The Ripon 1350 programme will develop participants’ knowledge, skills, and experience, through digital activities connected to the cathedral’s heritage. It will provide, for the very first time, opportunities to become a digital volunteer and volunteer remotely. The project will also significantly contribute to the digitisation of the cathedral’s heritage, hopefully attracting and engaging new audiences from the UK and abroad.
The project will expand the cathedral’s current volunteer programme of 100 volunteers, by providing new digital volunteering opportunities in roles such as social media, photography, collections, visitor experience and website development. Currently many of the cathedrals’ volunteers are aged 55 or over, living locally and generally engaging in roles at the cathedral in daytime hours. These roles are difficult to access by those working, those with family or caring commitments, those living outside the area or those without the means to travel.
Volunteers will be trained in the production of digital tours, educational and collections videos, live and pre-recorded lectures and talks, aerial drone film production and social media. Role opportunities include a Digital Volunteer Coordinator – a part/time paid role to manage the project and coordinate, train and support all Ripon1350 digital volunteers.
Head of Welcome, Pilgrimage and Heritage, the Ven Clive Mansell said: “’Stunning’ and ‘friendly’ are the terms that many visitors use to sum up their visit to Ripon Cathedral. The Ripon 1350 programme will enable us to share this experience digitally with many more people, who have yet to come in person or who cannot come in person. What better time to enable more people to enjoy Ripon Cathedral by the latest modern means than in the exciting 1350th anniversary year when we celebrate the fact that this sacred space has been a place of welcome, pilgrimage and prayer for countless people since the year 672.”